New York

Jack Whitten

Horodner Romley Gallery/Daniel Newburg Gallery

Given that Jack Whitten was nearly invisible to New York’s mainstream commercial gallery scene between 1978 and 1992, the show of his work from the early to mid ’70s (at Daniel Newburg) could only begin to fill in the development of this important abstract painter, but it did something that may be more important: it showed how prophetic Whitten was, brilliantly resolving the dilemmas to which younger abstractionists would return in the ’80s and ’90s with, presumably, little awareness of Whitten’s pioneering efforts. Whitten’s work of the ’70s seems to be about finding the intersection of unpredictable physical processes and the mind’s rational impulses: the place where each becomes the grid or filter through which the “ghostlier demarcations” of the other may be glimpsed.

In contrast to the blowsiness of most “formalist” painting at the time, Whitten’s paintings of the early ’70s display

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